Did you know that the physical benefits of yoga may reduce the risk of falling? 

I have been teaching modified yoga poses as exercise and witnessing improved balance, increased confidence and reduced falls in my patients for years.
The first homebound patient that I ever instructed in yoga as part of our physical therapy session was a young woman recovering from a stroke that had left one side of her body completely paralyzed. Together we found that positioning her body in symmetrical and asymmetrical standing poses helped to improve her balance and her confidence with returning to her normal activities.

 

I was literally stunned at how her body and brain responded to the yoga poses as exercises for improving her standing balance, alignment and posture after the stroke.

 

And I will never forget the look on her face when she finally walked around her kitchen for the first time without her cane. 

We both cried tears of joy.

 

I am IMG_0780so happy that researchers are publishing preliminary studies to prove that yoga is effective for both men and women! I am sharing links in this blog to three pilot studies that paint a very positive picture for older adults who want to practice modified yoga poses to reduce fall risk and improve balance.

 

  • One pilot study found that an eight-week adapted yoga program improved postural control, mobility and walking speed for a group of community-living older adults.
  • second pilot study found that older adults living in a retirement community who practiced yoga for 12 weeks improved their balance and reduced their feelings of fear of falling.
  • third pilot study showed that older adults in a retirement community who practiced adapted yoga for 3 months experienced better balance and improved balance confidence.

kim bell, the bell method, imbalance, fall prevention

I hope that future research studies investigating the benefits of yoga for improved balance in older adults offer stronger conclusions based on larger sample sizes with a more intensive research study design. Additionally, I am interested to read the exact yoga poses with modifications, and the yoga sequences that were investigated during the research study, so that I am able to reproduce the evidence-based yoga practice to reduce falls and their devastating consequences in our community.

 

The very first yoga practice that I teach to all of my patients and physical therapy colleagues, is the relaxation breathing. The relaxation breathing technique is one of the mindful breathing strategies that my patients and I have found to be of tremendous benefit in stabilizing our respective nervous systems and optimizing our recovery. I will share a link to a YouTube video on Relaxation Breathing in a future blog post.

 

I now recommend yoga only for the physical benefits and not as a spiritual practice as it was originally intended.

Gratitude to my Parent and Teacher:

Thank you to my beautiful mother for posing as a photo model for the adapted yoga poses. She is demonstrating Extended Side Angle pose and Warrior II supported by a chair. Mom, thank you for giving me the gift of life. I would be nothing without you.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

-Exodus 10:12 (NIV)

 

This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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